14 Feb 2009 | Author: Hailey | Category: Music

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Suddenly, there isn't just a cyclops running after you, but two demon wolves too. But the grind becomes wearisome once you've trod the same hallways enough times, making you long for Gransys' verdant fields. The appeal of Age of Empires II: HD Edition is readily apparent. After all, the original Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings and its expansion are so beloved that there is still a healthy modding and multiplayer community devoted to the game. This is an impressive feat for a real-time strategy game that came out over a decade ago, especially when you consider that the official multiplayer matchmaking service was shut down years ago. A prettier version of AOEII with easier multiplayer matchmaking and mod support (via Steam's servers and 70 640 Cbt Nuggets Workshop) is a solid idea. Unfortunately, Hidden Path's HD edition of Ensemble Studios' classic RTS suffers from a variety of bugs and missed opportunities. Most of the experience on the links in 70 640 Cbt Nuggets Woods 14 is similar to that offered last year. This is a fairly typical sports sequel, with just some minor tweaks to game mechanics. Shot shaping is probably the biggest addition to the standard gamepad scheme introduced last year. Now, in order to pull off those nifty fades and draws that look so easy when the PGA pros do them on TV every Sunday, you have to push and pull the right stick diagonally. This is a more substantial addition to the game than you might think, because it's tricky to do this instead of the typical pull-back, push-forward routine. You get more of a sense of accomplishment now when you pull a ball around trees onto the fairway. Oliver is the cherry-cheeked center of Ni no Kuni--the boy who would save the world, as so many youngsters do in RPGs. But the world he saves isn't his own. Oliver lives in Motorville, an Anytown, U.S.A. sort of place--the kind you might see depicted in a Norman Rockwell painting. Children laugh and play, cars drive slowly along the shrubbery-lined streets, and mothers shop for bottles of milk and sacks of foodstuffs. On the occasions you visit Motorville throughout the game, your travels are accompanied by slurring violins and trilling flutes and oboes. The music tells you all you must know in just a few notes: Oliver's world is idyllic, and his childhood untroubled by cares of the adult world. There are chances to go stealthy too; Connor crouches automatically in tall grass, and can even press against corners and peek around. Hiding in grass is handy a number of times, though peeking around corners is an inconsistent proposition, since not every object has a "peekable" edge. In fact, inconsistencies occur within the parkour elements too, particularly out on the frontier, where you can scale rocky cliffs. Some cliffsides you can climb, and some you can't, even when it seems you should be able to grab hold and begin your ascent. And several chase sequences seem designed to annoy, such as one near the end of the game in which keeping up with your quarry is only frustrating and never fun. Combat skills are divided into two trees and allow for powerful offensive moves (a vicious spin attack, for instance) or for summoning creatures to assist in battle (a murder of crows, perhaps). The action is largely satisfying: it's smooth and responsive under the fingers and is colorful and bloody onscreen. Death's primary scythes make for fluid combat, while his secondary weapon provides rhythmic diversity. That weapon might be a huge axe that sets wraiths on fire, or superfast gauntlets with an electric charge. Your grapple and your gun can also be valuable assets when certain foes join the fray, and battles are at their best when you confront multiple creatures with diverse attack patterns. Fortunately, Surgeon Simulator gives you plenty of reasons to keep coming back. For one thing, each of those three surgeries can be performed in a ridiculously difficult alternate scenario that has you operating during a very bumpy ambulance ride. Your utensils and replacement organs go bouncing all over the place, and the back doors randomly swing open--it's pure chaos. On top of this, there are a number of Easter eggs to discover (like a top secret

If your aim is true, you are rewarded with one of the many gruesome and gratifying camera shots that Sniper Elite V2 lovingly serves up. The camera tracks the bullet and gives you a front-row seat to the moment of impact. Sometimes you just watch the bullet enter and exit the body, leaving a blooming exit wound behind. The more dramatic moments offer an X-ray view of the bullet smashing through bones and tearing through organs in grisly slow motion. These are brutal and gratuitous (perhaps too much so, for some), but even after hours of sniping, they never get old. If you crave a greater challenge, you can tackle the more formidable five-person dungeons; they go by quickly if you're up for the challenge, but evoke the toughest bits and pieces of Wrath of the Lich King's boss battles to put you through your paces. After exhausting these, there are the multitude of Challenge mode dungeons to wet your adventurer's whistle, which offer rewards in the form of cosmetic gear, achievements, and more depending on your finish time. Challenge mode dungeons can test your proficiency, and are thus a fine measure of skill for players looking for the more austere side of Pandaria. Alternatively, you can explore two new player-vs.-player battlegrounds: the Temple of Kotmugu and the Silvershard Mine, both glittering and polished takes on established concepts that work well. Other elements are thrown into the combat system with little regard as to how they interact with each other or add anything meaningful to the gameplay. Special attacks can be imbued with a "blast off" effect that sends enemies ricocheting off each other and onfield objects, which looks pretty cool but never does the sort of damage you'd expect. Hovering crystals offer various ranged effects and rewards when broken, but can be targeted only by the aforementioned blast off attacks and moe kills. An object called the "peon ball" amasses power as the battle drags on and can be summoned to deal damage to every foe onscreen, but its potential to backfire goes up in proportion to the health of your party, making it dangerous in the sort of last-ditch situations where you'd logically want to use it most. But such lamentations are minutia compared to the wealth of strategic joy Madden NFL 13 offers. The franchise has existed since 1988, and the various tweaks that have gone into the game in those 24 years have translated into an incredibly fun experience. As always, Madden 13 is at its best in competitive matches, and it doesn't matter if you're playing a buddy on your couch or across the country, going head-to-head is when the beauty of this game surfaces. Calling hot routes and blitzes to keep your opponent off guard, or evading a heavy rush to deliver a perfect pass, is exciting. Although luck occasionally is a factor (especially with turnovers), you're usually in total control of your actions, and considering the amount of depth present, the more time you invest, the more you grow as a player. Dialogue-rich sequences explain your objectives before each mission. Plentiful swearing and unrestrained anger highlight most of these conversations, and the vulgar cutscenes force the carefree action to take a backseat far too often. Furthermore, protagonist James Heller holds his hand to his ear and slowly walks around when a contact talks to him, contrasting wildly with the crazed sprinting and leaping that make up his normal locomotion. Problems with the story aside, the artistic style used in the many cutscenes is certainly eye-catching. High-contras


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